April 13, 2008

Legislative rolling and the New York budget language on tenure

One more thought on the New York state budget's language placing a moratorium on using test scores to deny teachers tenure: I'm wondering how much of the ire directed at the legislature and the calumny aimed at NYSUT (the state teachers union affiliate) is about the process of how this happened—i.e., without the "right" people in control or at the table.

I suspect the substance of the language is all about the waiting game going on with the end of Michael Bloomberg second term as New York mayor. The use of value-added measures as the sole or a primary tenure criterion is now blocked until after Bloomberg is out of office (and after Joel Klein is also likely to be gone as schools chancellor). Whatever decisions are taken after the moratorium ends will be taken by other people, in other political circumstances.

And it's that fact that makes me wonder about the undiscussed process issue. For the last seven and a half years, plenty of players were ignored in education policymaking. That's why the legislature approved mayoral control: to remove large bunches of stakeholders from the decision-making, in hopes that putting power in the hands of one person (Mayor Bloomberg) would aid significant reform. The political regime that followed that decision is something I'll leave to others to describe (and I suspect it would make a great dissertation for someone in the New York area), but the whole point of mayoral control was to remove people from the policymaking process.

So what happened in Albany? According to the critics of the decision who blamed NYSUT, the teachers union used every lobbying trick at their disposal to hide this provision in the budget while it was being drafted/finalized, while others (Bloomberg and allies) were left out of the process. The tone used by DFER head Joe Williams is one of anger and surprise, a "we was robbed" attitude. One informal term for being robbed and beaten up in the process is "being rolled," and that's much the impression I get from the critics of the language, especially the New York Daily News's referring to Albany as in the midst of a "legislative crime wave." No one likes to be rolled politically, but the irony here is that many of those who disapprove of being rolled in Albany haven't said boo about others' being rolled in NYC.

Listen to this article
Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on April 13, 2008 7:03 AM |